James Stuart, one of the original founders (and the Macallan leaseholder at the time) had already quit the business due to financial difficulties before the stills started running, leaving his partners Robert Dick (a banker) John Cruickshank (a lawyer) and William Grant (another banker, not the Glenfiddich/Balvenie William Grant) to pick up the pieces as a new company, William Grant & Co.
The new distillery became Glenrothes-Glenlivet in 1884, before William Grant & Co. amalgamated with the Islay Distillery Co. (owners of Bunnahabhain) in 1887 to become Highland Distillers Company (HDC). Glenrothes suffered two fires and an explosion that wrecked most of the distillery buildings in the period between 1897 and 1923, but managed to emerge stronger each time, with capacity being doubled during the first rebuild in 1898.
After a few decades of quiet achievement, there was further expansion to come between 1963 and 1989, by the end of which timethe distillery boasted ten stills and a capacity of over five and a half million litres/year. During this time (and to this day) the vast majority of Glenrothes' malt went into the Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse blends, and very few bottlings of Glenrothes single malt seem to have been available, although Gordon & Macphail were doing an 8 year old from at least the 1970s and there was an official 12yo in the 1980s.
Nowadays, Glenrothes has a much higher profile, following the distillery's acquisition in 1999 (for over £600 million) by The Edrington Group and William Grant & Sons (the other William Grant, the ones who own Glenfiddich & Balvenie). There have been myriad relases of Glenrothes since, but rather than age statements each release is from a specific vintage. This approach, along with the distinctive packaging and the rich, smooth, structured nature of the malts, has contributed to the great success of Glenrothes since it changed hands.
In 2010, The Glenrothes brand was sold by the Edrington Group to Berry Brothers & Rudd in exchange for Cutty Sark – Edrington continue to own the distillery and supply BB&R with spirit for The Glenrothes under a long-term contract agreement.
Character and Style of Glenrothes